AFTER scoring his first Premier League goal of 2014, Papiss Cisse admitted he has had to be mentally tough throughout his goalscoring fallow days.
Cisse’s second full season on Tyneside has brought just four goals, but the Senegalese striker hopes that Saturday’s winner against Crystal Palace could open the floodgates.
And his intervention was a timely one too - for it was Newcastle’s first goal this season without injured top scorer Loic Remy in the side.
“The team worked really hard and scoring that goal at the end was one of the best feelings in the world,” said Cisse after heading home Hatem Ben Arfa’s cross in the 94th minute.
“It is difficult when you see the team working so hard to get the win and you’re the striker up there responsible for getting the goals and when the chances keep coming and don’t go in. Again and again and again.
“I had to say to myself ‘Papiss, just kill the game’. If the game had gone to the other side, it would have been very bad. Palace had chances to score but didn’t, so it is very good for the team and for me.
“I felt relief and joy when the goal went in and when it hit the net I just thought ‘thank you’ to everybody in the team, who had worked so hard to get to that point for me to score.”
It has been a lonely time for Cisse, out of form, out of goals, while Remy carried on scoring the important goals for the Magpies.
But Newcastle supporters know that Cisse can score, having seen him knock in 13 goals in 2011-12 after signing in the January, and notching 13 in his first full season last year. The striker has belief that he can end the season well and give Newcastle something to think about in the summer, with a move to sign Remy permanently from QPR on the cards.
“You can have doubts, but John Carver told me before the game ‘I know you’re going to have chances because I’ve seen you working so hard on the training ground and if you get those chances and you miss, just keep going and if the game is still going the chances will still come’,” explained Cisse.
“It’s true that you have to be quite tough like that after missing a few. Now we can finish the season with a lot of points and hopefully I can get a few more goals, but it’s all for the team. I will just try and be myself and be confident and try to score more times.
“I feel like I need to be scoring goals. This has been a really hard season because it has never happened to me before. The run of not scoring has been very difficult in my head. It is tough to take and you feel bad for yourself and your team-mates because you wonder if you are doing enough, but I have to thank the other players and the staff, because I have always felt that they have had faith in me.
“But this year has been very, very hard. I just had to say to myself that I had to do myself justice, work hard and keep smiling and maybe I would get my chance to play. Thankfully that has happened. Now I want more goals and I will do my best.”
Cisse made a beeline for Newcastle assistant manager John Carver after the goal, and Carver explained: "I said to him before game that if he scored I would give him the biggest cuddle ever and that is why right at the end he came running across.
“He is a delightful lad to work with and I am so pleased for him. It is as if he is my brother. I feel so proud of him. He has stuck with it."